Rajasthan, which literally translates to Land of Kings, is the largest state, in area, in India and the one of the most traditional (with the most forts and castles!) arid / desert region in India with some men still wearing traditional Rajasthani-style turbans and all white clothing while married women,wear beautifully colored saris or Rajasthani dresses. (EduCARE India NGO Internship – Rajasthan projects)
It’s quite normal to see camels and cows commonly used as transportation and for transporting materials. Although the state is quite traditional, modern architecture is popular among homeowners. In both urban and rural areas, homes construction of bricks and cement is becoming popular with mostly coal-fuelled electricity. In big cities and towns, a more modern community of teens and 20-somethings have become global culture connected and wear more western clothes, interested in more modern aspirations, engaging in a variety of sports and the performing arts.
Located about 45-minutes from bustling Bikaner,Gajner, is a village located in the Kolayat region. Gajner is home to Chandasar Lake, the Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary and the famous heritage hotel, Gajner Palace. The community of Gajner is a mix of Muslims and Hindus. Most residents in the village own local shops, work as drivers or builders either in the community or in Bikaner, many women work as tailors and most residents of the migrant community take work either making bricks in the brick kiln, located between Gajner and a nearby village called Chandasar, or work as builders. The intern house is located near the bus stand at the far end of the market. Convenient shops include a few produce stalls, an Airtel shop, and an SBI branch and ATM. The hospital in Gajner is one of the bests in the region and provides free healthcare to the whole community as well as interns. The migrant community of Gajner, Indra Colony, is located just outside the main bazaar; about two kilometers from the intern house, and is where most ViKAAS projects take place.
Young Women Association, YWA
The YWA project helps to develop marginalized women of the migrant community into future leaders of the ViKAS center in Gajner. This is accomplished by identifying the needs of the women, educating them on these essential needs as well as topics including personal finance and savings. The association also features microfinance projects where the women learn new skills to aid with financial needs and independent business ventures. The project also offers basic educational needs including reading and writing Hindi and English. The YWA runs twice a week, Mondays and Tuesdays, from 10:00am to 12:00pm in the migrant community.
After-School Program, ASP
ASP runs on Mondays in the migrant community of Chandasar from 4pm – 5pm and on Wednesdays in the migrant community of Gajner from 4pm – 5pm. The project aims to develop a generation of children who are free of discrimination, whether it is gender, age or caste, by bringing all types of children in the village together to participate in sport, activities and educational one-on-one lessons if they seek it.
There are two girls clubs that run in Gajner on both Sunday and Monday. On Sundays they take place in Jessa Colony from 4pm – 5pm and on Mondays, there is one at 2pm in Ward One and again at 5pm in Jessa Colony. The girls club aims to create a safe space for girls to feel valued, supported and empowered. Activities are designed to develop their self-confidence, raise awareness of their own leadership potential and to increase their knowledge and awareness on topics such as global issues and health, including hygiene and sanitation.
Solid Waste Management Project, SWMP (under SWASH – Soil, Water and Air Sanitation for Healthy Villages)
The solid waste management project, SWMP, under SWASH aims to develop Gajner into an environmentally conscious community. This will be accomplished through educating and engaging shopkeepers and ViKAS Center identified households on the importance of waste management and conservation, as well as how to dispose of waste materials correctly. Through the SWMP, we are also engaging Gajner’s trash-pickers to help dispose of the collected waste to give to already on-going recyclable goods supply chains in Bikaner. This will ensure the sustainability of the project by giving an opportunity to community members, especially in the migrant community, to earn more income.
MPAT Survey/Poverty Research Project
The MPAT survey is an on-going monitoring and evaluation process that investigates the livelihoods and values of households in Indra Colony. The research gathered allows the centre to engage and encourage community wide participation for its own development and provides information that can be used to inform new projects and enhance existing ones.
Rang Mahal – Sri Ganganagar Centre
Located near Suratgarh in Sri Ganganagar district, Rang Mahal village is famous for the terracota of the early Gupta period are excavated in the ancient remains found in the village.
Now a dusty and sleepy village of about 4000 population comprising Bagari people including Jats and Jogis has been a native of civilization and culture. Around 5000 years ago, Sarasvati and Drishvati rivers use to congregate near Rangmahal. Rangamahal is also the resident place of Baba Ramdev for sometime and is also known of being Karmasthali of Bhagwan Jambheshwar. A known scholar and environmentalist Jambhoji have christened many people into Vishnoi belief while itinerant in this region.
Our current focus projects include understanding and learning the scope of sustainable development in the village through community engagement in micro-finance and micro-entrepreneurship, sanitation and waste management, women empowerment, organic farming, eco-building, community cultural cooperatives.
Famous for its sand dunes, village of Khuri near Jaisalmer has escaped commercialisation and the hordes that descend to visit the famous sand dunes in the area. The more remote Khuri Sand Dunes of Thar Desert can be reached from the village within 30 minutes. Sam Sand Dunes are about 38 km from Khuri and are famous for camel safaris.
Signs of some modern development are visible as more people discover it. Locals have also been quick to exploit the increasing popularity of the village. Staying in houses made of mud and straw is the traditional housing method of the village as well as several homestays.
Similar focus and feasibility for solid waste management, eco buildings, women’s empowerment and children’s education projects has been explored in some other villages for the last couple of years. Outside interns and volunteers visit this village only for limited period of time.